Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is a validated target in different human malignancies. EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) are known to contribute considerably to the extension of progression-free survival in EGFR-mutant non-small cell lung cancer and monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) targeting EGFR have also improved the efficacy outcomes in KRAS wild-type colorectal cancer. Nevertheless, a significant percentage of lung and colorectal cancer patients do not respond to anti-EGFR agents and secondary resistance after initial benefit is a challenging reality faced by clinicians. Extensive preclinical work on the potential mechanisms of resistance to EGFR inhibitors in different disease settings has guided the development of second-generation irreversible EGFR TKIs, more efficient anti-EGFR mAbs, and combination strategies with agents targeting other receptors and downstream effectors. In order to elucidate the role of the multiple therapeutic strategies under investigation to overcome EGFR inhibitors-resistance, rational drug development based on stringent preclinical data, biomarker validation and proper selection of patients in the ongoing clinical trials are of paramount importance. Preliminary results of clinical trials evaluating these approaches will be discussed in this manuscript, with emphasis on TKIs in lung cancer and mAbs in advanced colorectal cancer.
Copyright © 2011 Federation of European Biochemical Societies. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.